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CARITAS to Install Largest Solar Power System at any Nonprofit in Virginia

More than 1,000 Heliene brand photovoltaic solar panels will be installed starting in Spring 2020 on the roof of the CARITAS Center. The 427 Kilowatts of Solar Arrays Will Save an Estimated $427,000 in Energy Costs.

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CARITAS has signed an agreement with Secure Futures Solar of Staunton to install and operate the largest solar power system at any facility for a non-profit organization in Virginia. Solar arrays on the new CARITAS Center now under construction will provide a total capacity of 427 kilowatts of clean energy, estimated to cut the organization’s electric utility bills by $427,000 over the next 25 years.

More than 1,000 Heliene brand photovoltaic solar panels will be installed starting in Spring 2020 on the roof of the CARITAS Center currently being renovated in the Southside area of Richmond. The solar energy system is expected to cover a substantial portion of the new facility’s energy use by generating enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 72 average homes and to offset 464 tons of carbon dioxide pollution.

According to data on solar installations registered with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, the solar arrays at the CARITAS Center will have the largest capacity of any solar energy system located on a building or elsewhere at the location of a non-profit organization in Virginia. As of 2016, Virginia hosted nearly 38,000 nonprofit organizations delivering vital community services, according to consultancy Independent Sector.

“Innovation is one of our core values at CARITAS,” said President & CEO Karen Stanley. “As we move ahead bringing this bold vision for the CARITAS Center to life, it is important that we integrate new energy solutions into our project. We hope we can lead the way as other nonprofits bring solutions like this to life in their communities.”

Secure Futures will install solar energy equipment at no upfront capital cost to CARITAS and will operate the system under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement. Over that term, CARITAS will buy all the electricity generated by the solar panels located on site from Secure Futures at a cost lower than typically available. CARITAS will use a $17,000 grant from the RVA Solar Fund, administered by the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.

“CARITAS is walking the talk in linking clean energy to community service in Virginia, ” said Anthony Smith, president and CEO of Secure Futures. “Rooftop solar will cut their electric bills, making more resources available for their most vulnerable neighbors break the cycles of homelessness and addiction to reclaim their lives.”

When renovation of the former warehouse facility is completed later in 2020, the CARITAS Center will feature 150,000 square foot of space to house an emergency shelter, a substance-use recovery program for women, 47 apartments for people transitioning out of homlessness, a workforce development center, a furniture bank, and the organization’s administrative offices.

The decision to add solar power at the new facility is consistent with the commitment of CARITAS to effective stewardship of resources that are both financial and ecological. The building will also incorporate about 45 solar tubes, which will filter natural light throughout the Center. Other appliances are ENERGY STAR certified to manage usage and costs. Toilets in the bulding will also feature automatic shut off functions.

CARITAS helps our most vulnerable neighbors break the cycles of homelessness and addiction to reclaim their dignity. For more than 30 years, CARITAS has been providing effective, permanent solutions to individuals and families dealing with the crisis of homelessness and/or substance use disorders in the Metro Richmond area. Its four programs include Emergency Shelter, the Furniture Bank, CARITAS Works, and The Healing Place. Through these four programs, CARITAS provides men and women with the tools to make a successful transition to dignity and self-sufficiency.  You can learn more on the organization’s website at www.caritasva.org.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Events

Local artist Doug Orleski, better known as RVA Coffee Stain, selected as Monument 10K “Dash for the Cash” participant

Though he acknowledges that he still has plenty of work left to do to prepare before race day, Orleski already has plans for the $2,500 if he does cross the finish line first: he’ll donate the winnings to the VCU Massey Cancer Center.

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Doug Orleski, the Richmond-based artist known as ‘RVA Coffee Stain,’ has been selected for an opportunity to win $2,500 on Saturday, March 28, as the Dash for the Cash participant at the 2020 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k presented by Kroger. In the Dash for the Cash, one participant is selected to get a head start on the course and race against the rest of the field in hopes of being the first to cross the finish line. If the contestant can outrun the fastest elite runner, the Dash for the Cash prize is theirs for the taking.

Orleski’s head start will be based on his estimated predicted time on his race entry form, previous running experiences, and estimated times of elite runners in the field. His goal is to attempt to cross the finish line before any of the other athletes running in the full 10k (6.2 miles). If he does outpace the rest of the field to the finish line, he will win the $2,500 cash prize.

The 2020 Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k will be Orleski’s first-ever race after taking up running several years ago as part of a commitment to improving his health through active living. He began exercising and running on a regular basis and in the process lost 60 pounds on his journey to a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Through his cartoon and sketch work as RVA Coffee Stain, Orleski says he’s able to celebrate Richmond through art, and his work helped him become part of the community after he moved to the area in 2012. Taking part in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k is a natural extension of that community involvement and another great way to celebrate Richmond’s love for active living and big events.

“I was surprised and excited to be approached with the opportunity to take part in the Dash for the Cash,” Orleski said. “I was looking forward to the experience already since this will be my first actual race, and now I am anticipating race day on March 28 even more.”

Though he acknowledges that he still has plenty of work left to do to prepare before race day, Orleski already has plans for the $2,500 if he does cross the finish line first: he’ll donate the winnings to the VCU Massey Cancer Center, one of the official charity partners of the 10k, to help aid in their fight against cancer and support the lifesaving research being done here in Richmond.

In addition to the training he’s already done, Orleski plans to utilize the help of the Richmond Road Runners Club Advanced 10k Training Team, particularly to build speed. Orleski joked that after learning he’d been selected, “I texted my wife and said it looks like it’s time to start training so I don’t look like a fool out there,” but he knows this is a rare opportunity and a unique way to engage with the 10k, and he says he’s looking forward to the experience: “I’ll plan to do some fun stuff on RVA Coffee Stain social media leading up the race…. this will be really cool.”

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Crime

Pedestrian struck in hit and run crash on Magnolia Street in Northside

The Richmond Police Department’s Special Operations Division-Traffic Crash Team is investigating a Hit & Run crash that occurred in the late evening yesterday in the City’s Northside.

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The Richmond Police Department’s Special Operations Division-Traffic Crash Team is investigating a Hit & Run crash that occurred in the late evening yesterday in the City’s Northside.

On Thursday evening, February 20, 2020, between 8:50 p.m. and 9:10 p.m., an unidentified vehicle traveling east in the 2200 block of Magnolia Street struck and seriously injured a male pedestrian wearing a yellow and white coat who was walking along Magnolia Street.

The driver of the striking vehicle fled the scene without stopping to render aid with the last known direction of travel as heading east on Magnolia Street towards Mechanicsville Turnpike.

The victim was transported to a local hospital where he is listed in life-threatening condition.

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call RPD Crash Team Investigator Jarron Peterson at 804-646-1511 or contact Crime Stoppers at 780-1000 or at www.7801000.com. You may use the P3 smartphone app. All Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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Community

RTD on Nathan Burrell’s Impact on our Parks

A lot has changed in James River Park over the years one constant for 17 years was Nathan Burrell and his hard work.

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Nathan Burrell spent 17 years working in our park system. I’ve had the pleasure of working with him on a few projects. The impact he had on my particular project was immense. The impact he had on the James River Park System is even greater.

Colleen Curran at RTD has a great summary of the impact Nathan has had on our parks.

During his time as superintendent, Burrell raised the parks operational budget from approximately $535,000 to over $800,000. With the increase, he was able to expand the park staff from three to seven full-time positions.

He also secured capital improvement funding totaling over $800,000 for the park.

“I think he had the two main characteristics you need [in this position]: patience and perseverance. His patience didn’t mean he was going to accept it. Settling was not his thing. He was persistent, stubborn even, in pushing for what he believed was right,” Lugbill said.

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